May 24, 2022


Skillful Business Crafters

Homegrown couple realize dream with “Minnesota Traders” business in Pequot Lakes

“While I was still in high school I knew that this was the building that if I was ever to buy a building in Pequot and come home to set up shop somewhere, this was a target,” Maher said.

Back then Maher remembers wandering into the shop to look around at the nice furniture. After he left town it went through several owners, but most had a hard time utilizing the enormous floor and ceiling space to its full potential.

“It was always that building that was underutilized after Silver Creek Traders moved on,” Coltonsaid.

And so it was that he, wife Natalia and their business partners Chris Clasen and Mauryah Burattini made that aspiration come true when they saw the place on the market in the spring of 2020. They reached an agreement and closed on the building in December, and it’s taken this long to renovate the inside to properly house their ambitious goals that grew the longer they looked at the building.

“The whole building kind of evolved as we were going through renovating and deciding what we really wanted to do,” Colton said. “We bought the building to be Woods to Waters’ second location to add more agents or just expand the offerings we have.”

What started off as a new office grew into much more.

“We knew we wanted to keep the retail storefront open and we knew we wanted coffee,” Colton said.

Colton and Natalia Maher are half of the partnership that has opened Minnesota Traders, a smorgasbord of business offerings on Government Drive in Pequot Lakes. They opened their doors Sept. 3 of 2021.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

Colton and Natalia Maher are half of the partnership that has opened Minnesota Traders, a smorgasbord of business offerings on Government Drive in Pequot Lakes. They opened their doors Sept. 3 of 2021.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

The wide open space above the ground floor was renovated to make room for offices while the ground floor was optimized for a restaurant serving morning coffee, a specialized menu and even cocktails at night. And for shoppers, just across the floor is retail space where proper up north decor and gifts are on display, but that wasn’t enough, because in the midst of COVID 19 they realized that they had office space that would be high in demand for telecommuters, and so they added co-working spaces to the blueprints.

In addition to the Woods to Waters staff, there are also two and a half offices being rented full time as well as a conference room and a co-working lounge available.

“Our graphic, social media, marketing and videography is all here, but there are also companies that work for other people,” Colton said. “So it’s kind of a cross promotion of one another.”

“(There are) opportunities for people to come in, hang out for the day, work, have decent wifi and an aesthetically pleasing space,” Natalia said.

“You can have your breakfast, your lunch, your end of the day snack and throw in happy hour,” Colton said. “It really does have all the offerings everybody needs for conducting business but also having fun.”

One unofficial slogan they have been throwing around has been “coffee to cocktails”.

“Our overall takeaway is we’re trying to create community and foster community,” Natalia said. “We serve up local products and support local businesses. We have craft coffee, wine and beer serving specialty small plates, homemade sweets and curated lifestyle home goods boutique and coworking lounge spaces. It’s a lot of things, but hopefully all those things work together.”

The partners wanted to give a nod to the original Silver Creek Traders with the name Minnesota Traders. The name also reflects the types of products they serve and display. Colton said they have honey, maple syrup, canoe paddles and many other things.

“Anything that’s made here locally,” Colton said. “The local venders can come together and trade their goods.”

The boutique items aren’t on consignment, so the goods on sale in the shop are all at the wholesale price set by those who made them.

The offerings at the dining space are as local as they can be. They have Minnesota craft brews and local maple syrup, and their coffee is roasted in Duluth. All of their coffee syrups are made in house and the juice for their bloody Mary’s is being provided by Just Juice, another local business.

They are still ramping up. Soon the cafe will be serving charcuterie boards and gourmet donuts and their full menu. Right now they are still looking for more employees. They have 10 employees with a goal of employing 15 by the time the full menu launches. They are excited to put the location to good use.

“There’s nothing that aesthetically looks like this place,” Natalia said. “It’s a completely different feeling. The interior style, the products we’re offering, the lifestyle boutique are all very different from what you see in this area.”

There are also gluten free, paleo and keto friendly offerings on the menu.

They opened up shop Sept. 3 but they are having a grand opening October 16. Eventually they would like to host creative events in their space, adding yet another facet to the business.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or [email protected]